I’m in a rut. I’m at that stage in life where all the Ted Talks and inspirational speakers on Youtube are adamantly trying to convince me that I’m at the most exciting and wonderful period of my life, where anything is possible if I just believe. Unfortunately, I am having a really hard time believing them, let alone myself.
Last night, I finally met up with a childhood friend after an entire year has passed us by. In the small bossam stall in the crowded streets of Hongdae, the air saturated with noise, smoke, and heat, we spilled the messy happenings of our lives. During this time, she decided that she wanted to drop out of college, plastered her body with Harry Potter tattoos (which I am quite envious of) and learnt how to be a bartender. I, on the other hand, went on an exchange semester in Australia, and learnt more about myself than ever before in my life. All that travelling and relying on myself made me come to a conclusion that I definitely don’t want to be living a life in my major, because just thinking about my future in the field made me lose all motivation for living. I face entering my final year of college with so many decisions and plans of action that are eluding me every step of the way. Meanwhile, my boyfriend finally got his break after years of trying, and got the internship of his dreams, in one of the best motor companies. He says his experience has disillusioned him about the corporate life, seeing his coworkers’ faces sag in the myriad of cubicles surrounding him. In all these various facets of life, I believe we are faced with the same amount of uncertainty and angst, each a little envious and in awe with the life of the other. Increasingly, people are becoming more realistic and vulnerable on social media, in between the festival and foodie pics, they are professing deep anxiety and confusion over the futures.
Confession: I am contemplating a life in art. I know that nothing fascinates me more and gives me more joy than delving into the creative–reading, writing, watching, dancing, and feeling. Sadly, this big decision comes with a price; that while it has no price it furthermore has no monetary value. My dreams of becoming a curator/art historian/writer and editor all require that I pursue a Ph.D without the guarantee of any financial stability. It is a dream that makes loved ones frown and be concerned about the future, my future. It concerns me because I don’t know if the money, time and effort that I am going to be pouring into this future will ultimately lead to my demise, especially when I could have done something else. But deep down, my heart tells me that anything else is not my authentic self, anything else would be any other life but mine.
I am so incredibly blessed that I can even consider this kind of alternative future, and that my parents are completely supportive. I imagine that it is incredibly rare to have parents that actually push you towards such an uncertain future, but this is because they hold me with high esteem. Mother believes that I have a sixth sense when it comes to art, and it is ridiculously hard not to take it to heart. Their level of pride and confidence when it comes to my capabilities is astounding, and I wonder if my worries are an unnecessary complexity where I am talking myself out of something that could potentially be, and ironically not by others.
Earlier this month, as I was projecting the boundless opportunities offered by summer break, I was genuinely excited to have a summer where I could be unapologetically myself and live a creative life. I feel that no matter how much you work, and no matter what kind of life you project unto others, it is just difficult to convince yourself that you are enough, and that you have done something of worth. This month, I dived into a mini exhibition held for my mom, which proved to be tough work but a lot of fun and insight. It allowed me to see the business aspect of the art world, as we were unexpectedly invited to see the behind the scenes of a modern gallery. The entrepreneur is also the one that convinced me that there is an opportunity in the arts, and surprisingly confirmed all my thoughts that I dismissed as just dreams. Since then, I’ve been reading and researching things about living this creative academia. It is both liberating and disheartening at the same time, but I guess these are the doubts that everyone is feeling at this point in our lives. Most of all, I don’t want to waste the opportunities I have, or riddle myself with doubts. I don’t want to be my own biggest enemy. Then again, I don’t want to be my own downfall either. Does anyone else have these doubts? I’ve been asking so many questions on online platforms and on quora, but in the end other people cannot make my decisions for me. Either way, life will go vehemently on without me. I just need to buckle down and decide.
I found myself lying, face drooping into the slopes of my pillow, weighed down by all the things I should probably be doing and the things I wish I was doing. My uneven posture and tense legs strain from clenching and releasing early this morning from when I was taking my driver’s for the second time. Later, I struggled to cover the rose of my frost-bitten cheeks with multiple layers of foundation. It still shone through, a harsh and unapologetic bloom.
I tend to find myself fleeting from one place to the next, eagerly checking off the menial things off my diary for comfort. Put money into the bank. Check the dates for performance. Get some groceries–especially some salad. I should really get into that. I then crash into bed when they are done, feeling strangely unaccomplished and disconnected to my self.
I picked off the pieces of my body, the mangled individuals cast here and there over the bed. Recollected myself, and gathered together a self that can writes. I try to make meaning of the empty space. No matter how many times I try to keep my desk clear of the clutter, my pens and books with stickers and orange peels litter the top, and stay there until someone else enters.
I see a message pop up from my friend. We find solace in each other. There are friends you meet in blurs to pass messy nights with, and others with whom you reach out for in the darkness, meandering the unknown hills and edging around the crevices. I talk again about my feelings. She returns the same. I feel that there are many of us out there tonight–we are not lost, but just waiting for the winter to pass us over.
I went to a talk about mental health awareness today, and how it is stigmatised and 40% of Australians think that depressed people are dangerous, when in fact, they are the most targeted. I remember back in high school when I had some of the most tumultuous years of my life, and the crippling anxiety I had after getting gang robbed the second time and having my family fall apart and stitched back together. I would burst into hysteric tears for no good reason. The only reason I went home was because of my puppy and the weird guilt that convinced me I needed to be there to calm and mediate everything. I spent so many days at my sisters because the atmosphere choked me. I always looked to school for refuge, and thinking back, it’s the only reason why it never really developed into medication and doesn’t affect me so much now. School always had gossip and rumors and this and that to keep my mind off of things. I was preparing for college and for exams and having crushes and having fun with my friends… it gave me things to focus on. Even now, I sometimes find myself crying over something trivial, and it used to make me so angry for being weak and emotional. I’m over that now. I may not understand it, but it’s okay. I don’t judge or reprimand myself for expressing something and giving a sign that I feel something about the situation. I want to thank my boyfriend for this too, for always understanding and telling me to continue nurturing myself.
This turned out to be a longer post than intended. I just guess I want to say that I’m really grateful how everything turned out, and to everyone that has stood by me along the way. I took counselling after the robbery, and I am never ashamed to say it. I openly encourage all my friends to seek help if they need it. It was one of the best choices I made at the time, and just being able to speak about it to someone who would not worry as much as my friends or family would was everything. I’m really grateful for all the support my counsellor gave to me (shoutout to Miss Wilhite, I’ll never forget you) and to everyone who accepted me for me and were patient with me during my healing. Mental illness is an illness like all others, should be openly discussed and have support like any other battle.
…That it’s taken this long for me to post anything on here. Ri-dic-ulous. I am proportionally ashamed of myself because I’ve been busy with moving to a new city and applying for exchange and falling in love and all that. When I start reflecting on my 2015, I can identify all the new joys and richesse that has stripped me of my routine and the hobbies that I identify with myself. Another year has passed, and voila, I somehow find myself here in 2016. Time is unwarranted. It keeps going whether you take hold of it or not.
Currently, I am back home in Harare, Zimbabwe after spending almost a year and a half alone in South Korea. It’s great to be back. A couple of nights ago I met with some of my highschool classmates and it felt good to be able to talk about the powercuts and the ridiculous requirement of you having to go fetch the firefighters AND provide them with some water in case of fire. These are the little ideosyncrases that I can only fully enjoy with these special peoples, because explaining to any others will only result in gasps of shock or sympathetic ‘aws.’ It’s a sad state, but there is so much more to life and richness to our lives that cannot be enveloped by pitiful headlines that makes the international news.
The last year I believe I’ve changed a lot. I have more concrete ideas and beliefs on the things I feel passionate about, and have found more confidence in standing up for it and defending my position. I’ve also made important steps, participating in the little joys of being an adult and leaving my nest. I’ve lived about a year alone now in my own apartment, experiencing the infinite freedom of dancing around only in my underwear, to wishing death upon myself for leaving the food waste rubbish to last minute. I’ve learned what it means to fall in love, the ups and the downs, and what it means to share yourself in a way a little different to before, how it’s been with my family or any of my friends.
As I sat down at my desk, jotting down all the new years resolutions I made (e.g. STOP PROCRASTINATING. FIND 3 HOBBIES AND STICK BY IT. (FIND AN EXERCISE ROUTINE DEMMIT etc), I realized that all these things really amounted to one thing. Call it an idealistic existential crisis if you will, but this is the year I really want to discover myself. Get really in tune and more importantly comfortable with who I am and who I want to be. When I look back in 2016, I hope I can nod and be really satisfied and marvel at my spiritual and emotional growth. Already a lot is in store for me–I’m heading to Australia for a semester of exchange. How did I even pick this country from all the other options? Simple. I was inspired by a vlog I watched, I did some research and I was inspired. I put it as first choice. Surprisingly, I got in. So that’s what it is, I guess.
This is another thing that I’ve come more to terms with me. My carefree personality. It used to stress me out not knowing what I was going to do and always felt guilty about making big choices on a whim rather than the meticulous check lists and research that my friends delved into. But as I say, hey, it’s gotten me this well this far. It must be work pretty well for me!
I hope to write more often.
Cheers to that, and to the new year!
When I first came to Korea, I made an obligatory trip to the second biggest city in Korea, Busan, where I was born and raised till 3, and most of my family resides.
My cousin (who shares a whopping 16 year old age gap with me) treated me to lunch at a bustling double story cafe right in front of beautiful Gwanganli beach. The toast, omelette and sausages were reminiscent of home, and the atmosphere was relaxed for couples and families. On the beach, there always seems to be a lot of functions, such as beach volleyball or mini music concerts going on. I think it will be useful to check the events out to determine which ones you want to attend (and similarly, what to avoid!)
As night began to sweep into the sky, there was a sudden emergence of many provocatively cladded young women and men, who were probably looking to have an enjoyable evening in the notorious line of bars and clubs.
Meanwhile, at Dadaepo Beach they were hosting there Dadaepo Sunset Fountain of Dreams festival, an hour long water show, dancing flamboyantly to some of Korea’s most known and beloved tunes.
Today I woke up in a fairly good mood. I rolled over, picked up my phone, and was instantly thrown off-multitudes of messages glared at me and bleated angrily for my attention. My sister confessed recent challenges to the family, my friend stressed over her injury which she partially blamed me for, and everything seemed pretty gloom and doom. Almost immediately, 5 minutes into my day.
I admit one of my weaknesses to be being easily affected by the moods of others. I know the coin phrase nowadays is ‘good vibes’, but I’m understanding it’s importance increasingly so. Even if the person lives in a different continent across the wide sea, their bad day instantly permeates and makes my day alike.
It is pretty pointless to let myself be so vulnerable to the emotions of others, especially when it is so personal that it is difficult to know how it evolves for them. They may be over it in a few hours, but it will cloud me the entire day.
It’s important for me to find an equilibrium in myself. To find the balance of peace and happiness that cannot be dismantled by my love and feelings for others. It’s a challenge to do, but I guess the best option is to just shake it off (yay T. Swift, ever the poet)
I read in The Happiness Project that my relationship should not be the dumping grounds of emotions. It rang in me because often I’d fully lay bare all my emotions to my boyfriend, thinking that it was necessary and easier for him to understand why I’d be in certain moods. However, I just realized that I’m doing the same as others are doing to me. I find it tricky also the difference between confiding in someone and dumping your negative energy onto them.
I’m not sure, I’m just trying to figure things out.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve properly updated this blog. It’s been a long time coming. There were times where I’d recall with quite the pang how much I enjoyed and needed to express myself in a blog, but I was often too busy and many times too afraid to come back to this platform. I’ve just returned from my trip in Busan a week into finishing my first year at Yonsei University. I finally found the soul’s leisure to pick up some books from my to read list, and top of the list was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Now, though I would call myself a scholar I admit that it is difficult to force down informationals in a summer read, especially on arbitrary tips on ‘how to be happy.’ However, I’ve heard some rave reviews about it, and I must say that I do agree. It is simplistic, experimental, and life changing.
It is pretty tough trying to stay afloat as a new adult, thrust into the city alone and unknowing, and often against my will I find myself feeling grumpy and defensive against the world. Reading this book reminded me of the little pleasures I have in life, and what keeps me gentle and humble. It struck me how similar my life is to that of the author, having an affinity to the languages but directing myself towards law instead, the short anger spouts and most of all, simply trying to live and enhance a life that is already pretty worth living.She started a blog despite her doubts, and so I’ve decided to do the same.
It is a great summer read, and recommendable to anyone.
Look forward to my Busan trip post!
Thank you everyone who has stuck around,
Hello everyone! I know the content of my blog has been really irregular, with me sometimes moaning about blegh teen stuff and the struggles between juggling school life and social work, with pretty swell photographs and poetry. I’m not really sure who follows me for what, but I’m going to try be more dedicated now and just pump out some content. Well. That’s the thought for now anyway.
I believe that an existential crisis, as melodramatic as it sounds, does not come at some midlife point in your life in your mid 30′s/40′s, but really is viable to strike any individual at any time in life. Sometimes, this can mean a devastating financial crises or juggling the balance between mental and physical health. But really, as a recent survivor emerging from the clasps of a highschool life, I can really relate to alot of blog posts nowadays by juniors who feel sad and lonely and outcasted, especially in the junior year where the mood/feeling cannot fully be expressed in a logical manner, and life can only be described as ‘meh.’
Is this normal? I believe it’s quite normal. I’ve never really viewed myself as a pessimistic child- I’m really a turbulent mixture of being serene and nonchalant. However, this was definitely not the case just over a year ago. People underestimate what it is really like to be a teenager, this raging ball of emotions, desires and insecurities, mixed with family and friends and schools all demanding you to figure out what exactly it is that you want to do with the rest of your life. Who are you. What do you want to do. Lawyer? Doctor? Government official? Please.
I read this quote somewhere, saying that in this society, we are really asking teenagers to decide what they want to pursue for the rest of their lives, at the age of 18, when just two months ago they had to ask for permission to go the bathroom. And that is just so logical, and so true. Multitudes of times, before I finally got my acceptance letter about 3 weeks ago, I would feel lost and constantly insecure. That is really what it has become, the culminating result and show of achievement, or evidence that states that you have actually not wasted 12 whole years of your life in school. I was a decent student, who worked hard and played hard, but the weight of decisions and the nerve-wracking indecisions drove me to several breakdowns. I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to go to this university but they may not accept me. Why would they accept me. There are so many better students than me. Doubts, regrets, anxiety, and anger.
All I can say really is that it is a phase in life, a brief darkness in the tunnel. With the constant demanding, demanding, demanding for answers and ideas and work, life can really feel bleak and hopeless. This feeling can hit anyone, and that is okay, you are normal. It does not matter whether you’ve known what career you want to pursue at the age of three, or not.
Seriously though, take my word for it, this too will pass. Phases and insecurities about my body, my appearance, my acceptance seem to be defined by the limited people that compromise our families, friend groups and school. This too will pass. The people that seem to mean everything to you right now, whose opinions can jar you and make or break your day, soon they will mean nothing to you anymore, and life will go on. You will live life, and you will inevitably learn more about yourself. You will meet new people, and you will have the choice of company in the near future. The bogged-down feeling right now, it will soon dissolve. You will have the chance to start again, or grow even further. You will thrive where you are planted. You will be okay. You will be more than okay. Psh. That existential crisis, that ambiguity and the sinking panic that arises from it…those will be things in the past. As it is for me. Things, situations and people that I thought were the biggest parts of me now seem small and insignificant really in the grand scheme of everything that I envision my life to be. I definitely do not have all the answers still, but I am okay with that. Because I know that I have the choice now, not what I believe others will perceive of me. And I am content, because I am me. And the future and plans and all the things that I can achieve is exhilarating.
I hope you reach that point too.